Kenyans on Twitter came out in droves, expressing their fury following NTV’s exposè on the missing COVID-19 billions done by investigative journalist Dennis Okari on Sunday night August 16.
Okari revealed how the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) is currently unable to account for at least Ksh43billion, meant for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chinese billionaire and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma made the donations towards the cause but a consignment of it was sold to KEMSA and others to nearly a dozen unscrupulous Tanzanian companies.
Many Kenyans took to social media to express their outrage on how a group of Kenyans were having it easy in life thanks to their greed and the face that they are hurtling their less fortunate counterparts into deeper trouble due to the stolen funds.
While Okari was lauded for his bravery in conducting the expose, other Kenyans whispered a prayer for him, believing he took a huge risk on his own safety.
The NTV exposè shone a deeper light into the missing COVID-19 billions after The Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) on Sunday, August 16, claimed that a consignment of medical equipment donated by Jack Ma through his Alibaba Foundations could have been sold to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA)
“It is likely that national government agencies, county governments and private hospitals may have knowingly or unwittingly bought the same items from the devious and crooked individuals who seized the donations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA),” CSRG Presiding Convener Suba Churchill stated.
He further challenged the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to publicise their findings on where the donations from the Chinese Billionaire ended up.
“Failure by the DCI to come clean on the whereabouts of the donation even after reports emerged that they had been stolen upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport lends credence to the possibility that well connected tenderpreneurs may have seized the donations,” Suba stated.
CSRG went on to call for fresh investigations into the disappearance of assorted medical equipment donations which included 100,000 face masks and 20,000 Covid-19 testing kits.
The donations arrived in the country on March 24, in an Ethiopian Airlines cargo plane, only for the huge consignment to disappear without any official statement to date as to whether it was ever found.
According to the NTV exposè, two companies (Mega scope healthcare & Crown healthcare limited) were involved in clearing the medical supplies from Jack Ma at JKIA. The equipment was then moved to a private warehouse in Nairobi.
A quick search on the internet will show one that Megascope is owned by people very closely associated with President Uhuru Kenyata. They have running contracts with the government.
Later, NTV reported that the equipment was transferred via road to Tanzania. It crossed the Namanga border under tight police protection. At least a dozen Tanzanian companies benefited from the equipment.
One of the Tanzanian companies that received part of the diverted consignment, Pivotech Company Limited, offers generator maintenance, telecoms tower commissioning, civil works, network installation and Air-con maintenance.
Dr Godwin Agutu, the Director of Network Action Against Corruption (NAAC) an organization that has been investigating how the COVID-19 billions spent claimed the remaining equipment was given to private companies in Kenya.
KEMSA on their part would award a company a tender and later cancel it, but would not delete the information in their system. They would then manipulate the system and open similar accounts.
The awarding and subsequent cancellations of tenders within a short time due to “failure to deliver” on time despite contravening the delivery timelines was meant to frustrate and make it impossible for genuine companies to do business with KEMSA.
Seven of 12 companies listed in the feature had their tenders cancelled. However, their names still
appear in the KEMSA public procurement system as the multi-million bids went to shadow companies of well-connected individuals and friends.
Kilig Limited, registered on January 22, 2020, received a direct tender a month later to deliver PPEs at the cost of KSh4B.
A Nairobi lawyer registered the company on behalf of a vocal Jubilee party power broker & the PA of a top official in the opposition.
KEMSA lied to the Ad-Hoc committee by selling a pack of 50 3-ply facemasks at KSh5,000 while others were selling at KSh1,881 and KSh2,325.
According to Dr. Agutu, some Senators went through extensive proxies to make sure they win KEMSA tenders, get the money and supply nothing.
The companies that indeed won KEMSA tenders supplied Medical equipment at grossly inflated prices. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s niece, Samantha Ngina Muthama who co-owns Ziwala Limited alongside June Nduta Kinyua, was one of the companies that received a piece of the COVID-19 billions.
It received an Ksh84 million contract to supply 120,000 pieces of KN95 face masks, also at the inflated price of Ksh700 a piece.
“The people associated with these companies, some of them sit at the national committee on health, they are MPS, lawmakers, senators, some of them are PAs to very powerful figures in this country”, revealed Dr. Agutu.
The planning and coordination of looting the COVID-19 funds and supplies was done in a private office block along Chalbi Drive in Lavington, Nairobi.
Meanwhile, as a few people made millions from Jack Ma’s donations, the government struggled with testing COVID-19 over lack of test tubes.
KTN journalist Mercy Korir revealed she was taken in circles when she asked the Ministry of Health about COVID-19 donations.
“I remember asking the Ministry of Health about PPEs during their initial pressers. Many times they said they were in high seas, or being distributed, or we are working on it and other short stories. #Covid19Millionaires now unveils the pains I had trying to find out what was happening.” she wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile the country is currently flooded with locally manufactured PPEs, an excellent sign of increased of production through local industries and a boost to the economy. Healthcare workers are however concerned about the availability and quality of PPEs.
The cost of testing for COVID-19 in many private hospitals for example is nearly three times the price of procuring the test kits.
Many private institutions charge between Ksh10,000 to Ksh18,000 for a COVID-19 test. But at Kenyatta National Hospital, a COVID-19 test costs about Ksh5,000 for those who need a certificate to show their employer.
COVID-19 in-patients have their bills paid by government. The admission at KNH is mandatory, lasting 10 days and charging up to Ksh240,000, with a charge of Ksh24,000 per day. The charges include the cost of two PPEs inclusive at Ksh10,000 a piece.